Nothing Hotter than a Hobo (Bag)

Nothing Hotter than a Hobo (Bag)

It seems like there’s a specific name for everything in the fashion world. In fact, sometimes they’re willing to draw up inspiration from some of the strangest, least fashionable items around.


Which brings us to the fashion topic of the day:


The hobo bag. Its expansive, unstructured compartments leave enough room for your daily needs, and then some. Its crescent-moon figure allows for a breath of fresh air away from your typical crossbody bag, clutch, or classic purse. And, most importantly, it’s named after one of the more interesting focal points I’ve ever come across in the fashion translation industry.


But I suppose Mugatu would be proud, would he not? Afterall, the hobo bag goes hand in hand with his gloriously ratchet “Derelict” ad campaign, perhaps providing insight on how we’d all just like to hobo-down (hobo-up?) every once in a while.


Such a visionary.


In any case, when we first came across such a word in our daily Italian to English fashion translation, I think more time was spent reading about its origins than translating the word itself. When a product like this finds its way into international stores, it’s hard to imagine how it will be translated into other languages, because the decision to keep the image of hobos lurking in the background must be made. Does it get directly translated into the target language, or should it be the inspiration for a linguistic borrowing?


Our good friends over at can provide some insight. ASOS has a wonderful online shop that spans the likes of all the biggest European countries, and therefore languages, out there. Essentially, it is a fashion translator’s dream in the form of a website, allowing for instant translations in the matter of a click. In English, they offer a Hobo Slouch Bag:


Italian to English Translation Agency


Looking at the other language translations available, which include Italian, French, Spanish, German, and Russian, you’ll find a bit of a theme in the product names:

In Italian:


Italian to English translation agency

In French:

Italian to English Fashion translation

In Spanish:

Italian to English Fashion Translation

In German:

Italian to English translation agency

And in Russian:

Italian to English Fashion Translation Agency

5/5! Impressively consistent word borrowing, transcending both language and orthography with its Russian version of “хобо.” Which leads me to my next (rhetorical) pondering: has this universal, cross-language word borrowing been implemented simply to ignore having to translate a word which is just about the opposite of what the fashion world is looking for? You be the judge.

Photo credit: runzwthscissors28 / Foter / CC BY